13 Things You Never Knew about Friday the 13th

Our most unholy day has a rich history.

Every day, instead of living our lives in rational, sane ways, we're ultimately ruled by a set of superstitions. Whether that's on purpose (methodically not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk) or subconscious (feeling a sense of foreboding dread as you pass the creaky old house down the street), life can often feel dictated by these illogical inanities. And while such superstitions vary from person to person, there's one we collectively follow without a second thought: that Friday the 13th is a cursed, unlucky day.

To better prepare yourself for July's Friday the 13th, we've rounded up the 13 most spine-tingling facts about this least-holy of days. And for more stories that will make your skin crawl (in the best kind of way!), don't miss The 50 Most Death-Defying Selfies.

The day has a dedicated phobia.

Friday the 13th

If you're suffering from an intense fear of Friday the 13th, there's a name for that—paraskavedekatriaphobia. The more common triskaidekaphobia refers to the fear of just the number 13, while friggatriskaidekaphobia refers to either a fear of Friday (the Norse goddess Frigg is the etymological origin of Friday) or to a fear of Friday the 13th. And for more about your deepest, darkest fears, check out these 20 Childhood Fears That Stick with You Until Adulthood.

There once was a group that celebrated the day.

Robert Green Ingersoll Friday the 13th Club

However, for an elite group of men in New York City, The Thirteen Club, this phobia didn't exist whatsoever. Rather, the members suffered from a fear of people with the phobia. The group was founded with the intent to repair the number's reputation, and was formed by Captain William Fowler in 1882, who fought in 13 Civil War battles.

Along with other notable figures like Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt, the club met on every 13th of the month, at 13 after the hour, in groups of 13. What's more, the group set out to debunk other superstitions—like opening an umbrella inside, or breaking mirrors—by acting them out at every meeting.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The famous plane crash of "Alive" happened on Friday the 13th.

Andes Mountains Disaster Friday the 13th

Though plenty of other plane crashes have taken place on Friday the 13th—like Flight DC-4 of Pennsylvania-Central Airlines in 1947 (which killed all 50 on board) or, more chillingly, Flight 62 passenger jet of Aeroflot on October 13, 1972, (which killed all 174 on board)—few are more horrific than the October 1972 crash of Uruguayan Flight 571. (Yes, it happened on the same day as the Flight 62 crash.)

The plane, which contained an Uruguayan rugby team and family members, crashed into a remote part of the Andes Mountains in Chile. With no food nor game around, and death by starvation imminent, the survivors were forced to eat their (already deceased) fellow travelers. After 72 days, only 16 passengers to be rescued. And for more chilling stories, check out America's 30 Most Fascinating Unsolved Mysteries.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The superstition is partly due to The Last Supper.

The Last Supper Friday the 13th

Many claim that this superstition had its start because of the Last Supper—a dinner in which there were 13 guests. One of those guests happened to be Judas, who ultimately ended up betraying Jesus, thus fueling the superstition that a dinner party with 13 guests is incredibly unlucky.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The first popular reference to Friday the 13th was in a novel by Thomas Lawson.

Thomas Lawson Friday the 13th Book

As it turns out, stockbrokers have a very real fear of the holiday as well, citing a certain book, Friday, the Thirteenth, by Thomas Lawson, for their abject terror involved with the stock market on that certain day. In the book, Friday the 13th is the day that Wall Street is taken down. And for more fear-inducing content, check out these 30 Most Dangerous Bugs in America.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It's also the day that heavy metal was born.

Black Sabbath Friday the 13th

On Friday, February 13, 1970, the heavy metal genre entered the world with the release of Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album, leading the population even further into the supernatural with songs like "The Wizard" and "Wicked World" laid down in fierce guitar riffs and heavy drumming patterns.

One Indiana town took the lore of this day a step further.

Black Cat Friday the 13th

In the 1930s and '40s, the small town of French Lick, Indiana, required all black cats to wear bells around their necks on every Friday the 13th, so that townspeople could avoid further superstitions from taking place. According to the town's decree in the newspaper, "The practice was introduced on Friday, October 13, 1939, and enforced on all fateful Fridays since, except last year, when a number of minor mishaps occurred."

It does no good to avoid the day.

Man Scared in Bed Friday the 13th

For Daz Baxter, the holiday was incredibly stressful—too many ladders to walk underneath and black cats to cross in front of your path—and it was better to just stay home in bed. Or not, as it turned out for Baxter, who was so terrified of the holiday that he shut himself in his apartment, only to have his bed plummet six stories, where he eventually died. Yikes!

Only three Fridays can fall on the 13th per year.

Friday the 13th Calendar

Good news: you'll only be needing your Friday the 13th hexes and potions three days out of the year. In fact, until 2020, we'll only have to worry about two days out of each year. For quick planning, it's good to know that if the month starts out on a Sunday, you can plan on the 13th falling on a Friday.

Alfred Hitchcock had a close relationship with the day.

Alfred Hitchcock Friday the 13th

The master of all murder, mayhem, and superstition, director and filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was aptly born on Friday, August 13, 1899. His most famous encounter with the number, though, had to do with his directorial debut film, Number 13, which lost its funding and never moved past the beginning scenes.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Luck goes both ways on Friday the 13th.

Lightning Storm Friday the 13th

On Friday, August 13, 2010, at 13:13 military time, a 13-year-old boy was struck by lightning in Suffolk, England. Talk about bad luck… But in a turn of good luck, the kid only received minor burns—much cooler than a lightning bolt-shaped scar on the forehead, in our opinion.

An asteroid will (almost) collide with the Earth on Friday, April 13, 2029.

asteroid hitting earth in the future

To begin with, there's no need to ready your gear for the apocalypse—this asteroid, according to NASA's Near Earth Object Program, will narrowly miss our planet. But, on Friday, April 13, 2029, we'll get a spectacular view of the asteroid 99942 Apophis as it swiftly moves past us, narrowly avoiding our atmosphere. Fortunately, when the asteroid was first discovered in 2004, it was given a 1-in-60 chance of colliding with Earth—though now later data suggests there's no chance of it hitting the Earth at all.

In Italy, people fear Friday the 17th.

Rome, Italy Friday the 13th

Instead of putting their fear into the number 13, Italians are wary of 17, because "when viewed as the Roman numeral XVII, and then changed anagrammatically to VIXI, it reminds Italians of the Latin language phrase which translates to 'I have lived', which can be understood as, 'My life is over'." So, in other words, Italians' fears closely mirror our own—they are completely baseless, but nonetheless very important.

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Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
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